Monday, February 22, 2010

Spotlight Author with Stacey Kayne

Another week has passed, finding us with a new Spotlight Author. This week I am Spotlighting my friend, Stacey Kayne. She is a masterful writer who tells stories about the old west. She has a flare for history and putting two characters together that will twist your heart into a knot. So please take a few minutes to sit back, relax and listen to what Stacey has to say.

Stacey, tell us about what you write.

I write historical westerns—love those rugged heroes and feisty heroines pitted against the untamed and perilous terrain of the American West. My Wild Trilogy and Bride Series are published by Harlequin. I’ll have a new western series starting up in the next year. I got a flash of good news this week when MOUNTAIN WILD, the final book in my Wild Trilogy, received the CataRomance Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Harlequin Historical of ‘09.

Congratulations Stacey!!! That's awesome news! What has inspired you to write about the Old West?

My college courses in American History and my tendency to daydream. I have a very visual brain, so while steeped in images of the American West my brain began to spin stories. Having a computer at my disposal for the first time, I tried to capture those images on paper. The result: Bride of Shadow Canyon. Until then I’d never written more than an essay or a term paper. I had no idea I’d ever have an inkling to write novels in the romance genre or any other. But once I started weaving stories, I was hooked. Within a year I’d started several manuscripts, signed with an agent and changed my career goal from teaching to publishing western romance.

You have a way of creating memorable characters that I and many readers out there love. Have you ever become so connected with one of them that you have a hard time letting their story go when you type The End?

Thank you. It’s always hard to say goodbye, although writing series as I do, nearly all my characters are around for several books. This past year tied up both my Wild and Bride series, and I think it left me a bit shell-shocked. I’d spent years with those characters. I’ve been working on the new series over the last year and it took me quite some time to detach from the old cast and settle into the new.

When I write I have to listen to music. Does music or anything else influence your writing? If so what do you like to listen to while you’re writing?

I don’t listen to music while I’m writing, but music can certainly help with my mindset before I open a file. Lyrics also inspire strong visuals that can relate to something going on with my characters, or maybe just a feeling that will tap into one of my characters. Again, it all goes back to daydreaming—visuals from songs can make my mind take off in a new direction for my characters. Most recently Slipknots’ song Psychosocial inspired one of my upcoming heroines—the powerful and aggressive lyrics spurred a landslide of visuals and I started sketching the character.

How long was your road to publishing?

I finished my first manuscript in January 2002, BRIDE OF SHADOW CANYON. I sold my first book in July 2006, MUSTANG WILD. I’ve since sold eight westerns—six published, two in the works.

Do you have any tricks of the trade or something special that you use to help you write?

I like to make storyboards for the manuscript I’m writing—a poster board collage I keep next to my desk—mostly scenery and key words I clip from magazines. It’s a great tool for glancing up and getting a quick visual of my character’s surroundings.

Any favorite books on craft?

Not really—but I’ve always been one of those who learn through trial and error, and tend to leave the directions in the box *g*. My short attention span doesn’t last long in tech books. When I first realized I was trying to write a romance novel I called up my mom and asked her bring me some of those books she read—Uh, yeah, I wasn’t a reader—and she brought me this huge box. I read about 300 romance novels in a month. I sorted them into piles I liked and didn’t like and then wrote out the reasons why. I knew the story I wanted to tell, the characters very much alive in my mind, but reading those books helped me define the style of writing I wanted to use to bring them to the page, mostly the balance of prose vs. dialogue, action vs. circumstance, and the rhythm to the writing that most engaged me as reader. I then bought the book YOUR NOVEL PROPOSAL: FROM CREATION TO CONTRACT to get the 411 on formatting and how to structure a synopsis and query letter. My first query letter got me an agent, so it might be a good book to have  As for fine-tuning the actual writing—I entered my work in writing contests—lots and lots of contests. Contests worked for me is because, first, I’m very stubborn, and second, I didn’t know anyone in the writing world, therefore had nothing to base my trust on someone as a critiquer. With contests, if I didn’t agree with the feedback, I tossed it in the trash, no fuss no muss. I expected heavy criticism and I got it! (side note: that doesn’t change even after you sell!) I tended to ignore random gripes from judges that struck me as personal preference issues and focused on writing mechanic errors or anything mentioned by more than one judge. If three judges had a problem with a certain scene or area, I’d look more closely at it and gauge if I needed to do some tinkering. Or sometimes a judge would make a suggestion that would make me slap my forehead and say, “Dang, why didn’t I see it that way!?” I loved those moments. I knew my story, knew where I wanted my characters to go and all that—I just needed to make sure I was keeping that clear for the reader, and contests really helped. Now I have three critique partners whose perspectives I trust and love dearly.

What about any advice for aspiring authors?

• Write like a maniac. Personally, I believe it takes completing more than one manuscript to find your voice. When it comes down to it, we’re not selling “a book”, we’re selling our personal spin on storytelling. By the time I sold my first book I had finished ten manuscripts, but it wasn’t until my third, MUSTANG WILD, that I hit on the ebb and flow of words/characterization that defined my voice for me. I then went back and reworked those first two ms’s. There might be those who get it first try, but I think for most, it takes some time to SEE it.
• Don’t rush it. While it’s important to submit to editors, it’s more important to take time to fine-tune and put your best work out there.
• Write what you love—because once you sell, they want MORE.
• Put your work out there to get reader feedback, whether it’s critique groups, critique partners or contests.
• Believe in yourself. Know that rejections are just another necessary piece of the game; building blocks, steppingstones to the next round. A character in a book I read recently, UNDENIABLE MAGNATISM by Bonnie Dee, had a saying that I just loved: “Rejection is simply acceptance that hasn’t ripened yet.” 
• Love what you write, keep the faith, keep submitting.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Hopefully with a hefty back list of books, and likely lost in transition since my boys will be in their first years of college (say it ain’t so!!).

Fast Five

All time favorite movie-

Hangover. Funniest movie I’ve seen in forever!

If you were on a deserted island what is one thing you couldn’t live without and why?

My laptop, it contains my universe!

Early riser or Night owl-

Night owl.

Rainy or Sunny days-

Rainy days are great writing days.

What is loaded in your i-Pod right now?

All my faves, mostly rock and metal with sprinkles of country: Slipknot, Metallica, Blackstone Cherry, Skillet, Papa Roach, Lincoln Park, Chilli Peppers, Static X, Rob Zombie, Gary Allen, Tim McGraw—recently uploaded a new favorite group, Cage The Elephant—love their sound. I added them to my Myspace player for anyone wanting to check them out.

Thank you, Stacey for giving me the opportunity to interview you.

My pleasure. Thanks for inviting me over!

You can find Stacey’s books at

Thanks again to all of my faithful Micole Writes Romance blog readers. I appreciate everyone of my supporters out there. Please don't forget to drop by the comments section and say hi. Tell me what you think about this interview. Leave a question for me or Stacey. Until next time friends.


Micole Black


Sarah Simas said...

Hi Stacey and Micole!

Awesome interview! I love getting to know a little more about Stacey and her writing. :)

Congrats on the Big News, Stacey! Wah-Hoo! That is definitely something to be proud of!

Loved your play list, too. I so did not see the "Rocker Chick" in you. Too cool!

Good job, Micole. You knocked it out of the park! :)

Ginny M. Christensen said...

Hello Ladies,

Great interview. You've got a knack for this, Micole.

Stacey - Congrats! Now, I really am going to hang on to those pictures of me and you and B&N. They just might be worth big bucks in the near future!

Keep up the good work.


Sharon Lathan said...

Hi Stacey! I loved reading of your journey and inspiration. And congrats on the fabulous news of more novels coming soon! Now you just need to get yourself down to one of our meetings so I can finally shake your hand and say howdy in person. :)

Great interview, Micole. Wonderful questions, and I truly enjoyed reading them and learning more of Stacey.


PS- Missed you last weekend. :)

Stacey Kayne said...

Thanks, Sarah :) I don't give off the "rocker" vibe, huh? *g* I'm also a screamo fan by sheer force of teens ;-) My youngest is major into music, plays guitar, drums, keyboard and sings/screams--he's discovered the techno-screamo-christian scene. His band is constantly at the house--rattling the walls ;-D

Stacey Kayne said...

Hi Ginny! LOL!! I don't know about the pics, but it was great to see you at the signing :) The lunch was a blast too--we gotta do that again!

Stacey Kayne said...

Thank you, Sharon! I sooo NEED to make it to a meeting--looking forward to meeting you in person too. I swear I'm the epitome of the hermit author. Even my family starts to wonder if I'm still around....*g* You have any book signings coming up???

Micole Black said...

Thank you Sarah, Sharon, Ginny and Stacey... for all of your support!!!



GladysMP said...

Boy, reading 300 romance books in one month. When did you eat and sleep? LOL I love Western stories. There is such intrique in the territory and the cowboys. Lots of action on ranches.